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Inbox: It's impossible to predict

Training camp is all about competition

TE Tyler Davis
TE Tyler Davis

Al from Green Bay, WI

Training camp is creeping up on us. What is the ONE THING you would like to do before the mayhem begins?

Nothing fancy. Just rest up. The NFL season is a grind with few water breaks.

James from Ottawa, Canada

Wes, with training camp slowly but surely coming into focus on the horizon, I'm curious to know what your favorite part about camp is. I know there are a plethora of worthy options for fans (bike rides, Family Night, etc.). But from your more decidedly "Insider" perspective, what is the highlight for you?

The first preseason game. While we're still a month away from "real" football at that point, I always enjoy seeing the young guys on the roster bubble get a chance to show what they can do.

TK from Grafton, WI

Workhorse running backs are a thing of the past. I get it. So, how on earth was Walter Payton able to do it for so long? I hated him twice a year. The rest of the time, he was THE MAN!

Some backs are just built different and can handle 300-400 touches each year without any problem. That remains true today, but I think more and more teams are looking to protect their backs to keep them healthy and on the field.

Michael from Morrison, IL

Wes, first off, thank you for all the time and effort you put into concocting last week's OI. While seeing my name not once, not twice, but thrice was exciting, I got much more enjoyment out of the multitude of other stories. My question, though, pertains to training camp. Other than WR, which camp battle(s) are you looking forward to?

Offensive line. For the first time in the modern era, the Packers have used three picks on the O-line in three consecutive drafts. So, you have this abundance of talent competing for what amounts to three starting jobs. Royce Newman and Jon Runyan led the offense in playing time last year but will be facing challenges from three incoming rookies. What's more, you have Yosh Nijman trying to lock down a starting job. Training camp is all about competition.

Darren from Wakefield, MI

Congrats to all the II honorably mentioned. I know it's early, though with all the receiver talk and big shoes to fill, is it likely the Packers keep more receivers this year? Stash more on the practice squad or just pick from the wide receiver tree later if need be?

I do think the Packers will keep more than the average year. If everyone performs and stays healthy, I could easily see the Packers go heavy at receiver this year as an investment into the future.

Bruce from Jackson, WI

Morning Insiders, in our opening game Wes (58 days) against Minnesota, what would you rather see to quiet the critics down that we won't have an offense without Tae? Aaron Rodgers spreads the ball around and throws for 350-plus yards with a deep strike of 50 yards or more; or Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon each run for 100 yards? Or would you rather a more balanced approach? The lazy days of summer are made for dreaming. GPG!

It would be great if Rodgers had a big game through the air. Everyone expects the Packers to run the ball and play stout defense. The Adams-less passing offense is what's been under the microscope this offseason. I'd love nothing more than to see Rodgers cut up Minnesota's secondary and force the pundits to find a new narrative to grab onto.

Rick from Bluffton, SC

Could you go over how the practice squad is made up? Out of the 16 players on a practice squad, how many are protected from being claimed by another team. If someone is claimed and the team wants to keep that player, would they move them to the 53-man roster? If they did, how long do they need to stay there?

Teams can protect up to four players each week. Nobody is "claimed," though. Practice-squad players are all technically free agents. Unless they're protected, practice-squad players are free to sign to another team's 53-man roster. However, the current team often will get a chance to either promote the player or increase their salary before they depart. The Packers have gone that route several times in the past.

Scott from Sheboygan, WI

Insiders, I loved the player profile on Edgar Bennett. There was a comment from a coach about Bennett not being as valuable on another team. I think we found that same thing with Rasul Douglas and De'Vondre Campbell. Do any other former Packers fit that description?

I don't think that applies to Campbell. He's been successful everywhere he's played in the NFL. The Packers just put him in a position to be a playmaker, not just a complementary piece. You might be onto something with Douglas, though. He had a third-round pedigree but bounced around before finding his footing in Green Bay.

The Packers Road Trip continued on Wednesday afternoon with visits to Rawhide Youth Services and the Wisconsin Veterans home.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

I know it's player, not position, but it would seem that there is some crossover between the TE room and RB room. How many combined TE/RBs do you see making the team? I'll put the O/U at eight.

It's hard to put a number on it because we don't know whether Robert Tonyan and Kylin Hill will start the season on PUP. It's possible the Packers keep four tight ends if Tonyan isn't back, but then do the Packers go light on running backs? It's impossible to predict. Because you never know when a Tyler Davis or Dominique Dafney is going to come out of nowhere to make an impact.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Good morning, Wes! I see that you list Jonathan Ford as a possible option on the DL. Something in his workouts must have caught your eye. Your thoughts?

He's just a massive dude. Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Jarran Reed and Devonte Wyatt make for a great foursome, but T.J. Slaton and Ford really complete the room. They're both athletic for their size and could take some first downs off the plate of the other four.

Bob from Green Bay, WI

I see Houston unveiled a new helmet...I like it...will we ever see the Pack come out with something different? How about a green helmet with yellow G, white top and green pants with yellow accents?


Larry from Birmingham, AL

Hey II, the recent OI made me think. Looking back on your sports memories, was there a moment you witnessed history only to realize it years later? For me it was one day sitting in the south end zone at Lambeau (section 36, row 6, seat 5) when I saw a young buck, wearing No. 4, throw a touchdown pass against the Bengals. Little did I know then what I was really witnessing. Now it's a memory my dad and I share together and a story we tell almost every year. I'm more grateful for it every year.

Davante Adams' performance under the lights in Philly in 2016. I obviously wouldn't put it on the same level as Favre's debut, but I realized that night Adams was something special. This young man can do things most receivers cannot, while also making the spectacular appear routine.

Christopher from La Valle, WI

Where do assistant coaches gain the most experience? As players or working up through the system?

In this sport? Working your way up the system. I've heard that time and time again. Playing gives you a solid foundation but everything changes once you're standing in front of the classroom. Even the established NFL players who became great head coaches needed seasoning.

Matt from Greensboro, NC

It's often said rookies and UDFAs need to take advantage of their camp and practice reps to get noticed. Does that mean they play with game intensity and game physicality? Are there parts of practice deemed to be in "live game" mode where the hits, blocks, and tackles are full effort where rookies and UDFAs can really make an impression?

Players certainly have to practice with intensity and make big plays when the opportunity is there, but I believe that phrase has more to do with the mental side of the game and knowing what your responsibilities are within the play. That's where these young guys separate themselves in camp. Everyone is talented. Most were the best on their college team. Who has their assignment down cold and can execute in that blink of an eye?

Ronald from Panabo, Philippines

Insiders, when Robert Tonyan comes back. Do you think it's possible we see three-TE sets this season?

I do, especially with the scheme variation that's possible with the "F" tight end position Josiah Deguara and Dafney play.

Jeremy from West Allis, WI

I know I'm late on the draw here, but I hope AJ Dillon's nickname, "The Quadfather," is getting its due. His legs are about as thick as my torso, and I'm not skinny! If the Packers find themselves on the 1-yard line needing a touchdown to win the Super Bowl, perhaps they hand it to Quadzilla, er, "The Quadfather."

Maybe I missed it, but I don't remember anyone submitting "Quadzilla" or "Quadfather." Maybe the best nickname of all hiding in plain sight.

Gary from Davenport, IA

After some recent questions about fantasy football, it reminded me of 1991. My QB, Randall Cunningham, was out for the year on opening day in Green Bay and scored no fantasy points. Luckily, I had many Washington players, and they came through with a team scoring record and Super Bowl win. I had one game for the ages: Rypien 442 yds (only 16 completions), six touchdown passes and a TD run; Clark 203 receiving yards and three TDs; Monk had 164 receiving yards and two TDs. In that game, Atlanta backup Brett Favre was 0-for-4 with two interceptions.

So, you were stuck with Cunningham for the entire season? At least, Brett came through for you.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Wes. Now that Nathaniel Hackett is no longer in the building, does the "gold zone" expression instead of "red zone" become passe in the coaches' room? Perhaps you could suggest they change it to the "Inbox" during one of your meetings.

Hackett or no Hackett, the "gold zone" is here to stay.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

I love Michael from Santa Cruz's query about fan jerseys honoring lesser-accomplished Packers. I had a No. 11 Ty Detmer jersey made when Brett Favre was maddeningly throwing too many "rocket balls" and picks early in his career. I thought the cerebral former Heisman winner would be the steadier choice for the Pack. Of course, the rest is history. I sometimes wonder what happened to that Favre guy.

Detmer over Mark Brunell? Bold strategy, Cotton.

Graydon from Menomonie, WI

Again, Wes leaves the II readers wanting more with "I haven't been to a Brewers game in forever, but I always make sure to wear my No. 14 Russell Branyan jersey. It's like one of three adult-size jerseys I own." II readers want to know the other two. Please tell me one of them is an old-school Milwaukee Bucks Paul Mokeski No. 44 jersey.

I wish. Scottie Pippen and Allen Iverson.

Jason from Austin, TX

I'll start off by saying how players want to spend their money is their own business. They've earned it. That being said, what programs does the NFL, or Packers, have to help or educate rookies (or vets) to be financially smart with the extremely large sum of money they just received? I've read far too many stories about players who spent all their money and were broke shortly after exiting the NFL.

The NFL and NFLPA do a great job of preparing players for life after football. Grey Ruegamer, a former Packers player himself, leads that effort in Green Bay. He serves as the team's player liaison to make sure the locker room is fully aware of all the resources at its disposal – whether that's advanced education, financial advisement or exploring potential business opportunities down the road.

Dan from Herriman, UT

Wes, "The Breakfast Club" is a little before your time, isn't it? Just had my 15-year-old watch it a couple months ago. It was interesting to hear his input as to how the cliques have changed since I was in school. I watched it with my parents after recently graduating high school. My mom asked what group I identified with the most and I responded that I was equally comfortable in each of them and really didn't identify as any of them. How 'bout you?

I got along with everybody. I think (hope) you could ask anyone I went to high school with, and they'd tell you the same thing. It's not like I'm the most outgoing person who's walked the earth, but I developed empathy at a very young age. So, I was sort of a chameleon. I still am. I love "The Breakfast Club," by the way. I went to Des Plaines last year to get a photo with the "school." It's now a police station.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, does Young Hod plan to take his bike to training camp? Which player would he choose to ride his bike?

Not this year. I don't think I could take it if he didn't get picked. I remember my godson brought his bike in 2015, wasn't picked and it nearly broke my heart. Fortunately, undrafted free agent Harold Spears was kind enough to ride with him the next day. Thank you, Harold.

Dale from Port Washington, WI

312 Q&As each year. Wes, you're doing math. 312 would be all of them. So, if you're writing 312, what is Spoff doing? Or were you answering for boat (sic) yous guys?

Yous guys.

Dan from Mahtomedi, MN

My first mistake was thinking about how to train hard for II MVP considerations. And then I started to ponder if it is better to provide published, perfectly punctuated puns, or does it come down to something more basic like proper keypad level?

The early Outsider bird gets the Inbox worm. By Wednesday night, the dance card was nearly filled. If you submitted the first two days, I pulled a hamstring trying to get at least one of your responses in OI.

Dave from Waterford, OH

Now, I have this mental picture of you, Wes, in a fedora with a cigar in your mouth and a sarsaparilla (instead of a bourbon) sitting on the desk, hacking out your next great article. Maybe that image could be on a T-shirt!

With simply "OK" written underneath.